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Sling High Wing

Robbie Culver

EAA

Pilots from all over the world dream of flying to Oshkosh for EAA AirVenture. On July 27, 2022, a group of pilots completed what may be the ultimate AirVenture adventure — flying from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Oshkosh in three Sling High Wing experimental aircraft!

The flight was accomplished over 67.5 flying hours on a route that spanned Africa, the island of Barbados, Nassau in the Bahamas, then on to the continental U.S. Each aircraft was equipped with a total of about 150 gallons in multiple fuel tanks specially installed for this trip, and burned anywhere from 7.5 to 9.3 gallons per hour. The Sling High Wing cruises at about 145 knots true airspeed, and has four seats and a useful load of about 1,036 pounds.

Each aircraft is equipped with a 141-hp, turbocharged, fuel-injected Rotax 915 iS powerplant and an Airmaster three-bladed, constant-speed propeller.

The factory development prototype tail number ZU-SHW (for Sling High Wing) was flown by James Pitman and Matt Cohen. Cohen had flown only 25 hours past his private certificate at the start of the journey. The first customer-owned aircraft, N915HW, was flown by Linda Sollars, and the first taildragger was flown by JP Schulze with William Stiles as co-pilot.

Sollars said she had been “waiting for someone to make this airplane” and described the aircraft as a “spectacular piece of machinery!” She built the aircraft in Johannesburg, but is based as an airline pilot in the U.S.

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ZU-SHW had been modified for Cohen, as he had lost the use of his legs some years ago following a motorcycle accident. When asked about the adventure, Cohen said, “What an incredible experience with such great people! I can’t explain.” This is Cohen’s first time to Oshkosh, and the arrival may be hard to beat. Cohen described the journey as “the best experience of my life.” He added that during the flight, he told Pitman that this was “a most incredible life — I am just happy to be where I am!”

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Schulze — no stranger to long-distance flying, as he had completed an around-the-world flight in a Cessna 201 — described the journey as a “wild ride.” An all-woman crew completed the final legs from Nassau to Oshkosh, with Sollars being joined in 915HW by Jessica Toddun.

The longest of the eight legs was on Saturday, July 23, from Praia, Cape Verde, to Barbados, a distance of 2,101 nm. Schulze had finished his kit-built taildragger 14 days before arriving in Oshkosh, and spent the first two legs confirming performance data to ensure he could cross the Atlantic.

Upon arriving at AirVenture Oshkosh, a large contingent of South African supporters and many AirVenture attendees who had been following the trip on social media greeted the group as they taxied into homebuilt parking. Sling Aircraft is located on “Sling Island” in Booth 648 of the Homebuilt Display Area at AirVenture.

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